Hailed as "an unfailingly inventive narrative" by The New York Times Book Review, Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos series skillfully combines elements of classical mythology, religion, literature, and far-future theory. The saga's four gripping novels create an ambitious and consistently-engaging epic.
Many sci-fi lovers have fallen for Simmons' masterpiece. If you're a fan, these books like the Hyperion Cantos are worth a pilgrimage to your local library.
Frank Herbert's epic Dune saga has an epic scope and intricate worldbuilding that will appeal to Hyperion Cantos readers.
The series follows the Atreides family, who are entrusted with care of Arrakis, a remote planet that produces the valuable substance called "melange." Arrakis is populated by terrifying monsters called sandworms, which rival the Hyperion Cantos' Shrike as some of the most fascinating scary creatures from sci-fi literature.
The Corridors of Time
The first novel in the cantos, Hyperion, shows how everyday people are impacted by the instability of the Time Tombs and the conflicts between humanity's Hegemony and the Ousters.
Similarly, The Corridors of Time by Poul Anderson explores how Malcolm, a typical man, is pulled into an unfathomable battle spanning time and human history.
2001: A Space Odyssey
The first in a quartet of books by Arthur C. Clarke, 2001 begins with a discovery on the Moon. The significance of this finding is so tremendous that men are dispatched far into the solar system. But things start to go horrifically, mysteriously wrong, even before they reach their target...
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One of six books in David Brin's Uplift series, Startide Rising follows the adventures of the starship Streaker on the watery world of Kithrup. The ship is crewed by humans, as well as dolphins and chimpanzees who have been 'uplifted,' or given sentience.
A xenofiction novel that, like Hyperion, explores a dizzying range of points of view, Startide Rising looks at the universe through the perspective of animals, aliens, and human explorers.
The Eon Series
This is a mind-blowing, three-volume opus about alternate universes accessed by a route known as the Way.
In Legacy, a charismatic leader and his thousands of followers travel to a planet populated by genetic anomalies called 'ecos.' In Eon, Earth is threatened by a hollow asteroid that is found to contain manufactured chambers and a mysterious portal. And Eternity follows the ramifications of discovering a path between parallel universes.
Phases of Gravity
Another compelling work from Simmons, Phases of Gravity centers around Richard, an astronaut dealing with the personal sacrifices he made to go to space, and the ramifications of the Challenger disaster.
Although Phases of Gravity doesn't have the same sci-fi focus as the Hyperion books, it's just as engrossing and emotional.
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Much like The Canterbury Tales, the first Hyperion novel features stories told by a group of pilgrims.
Part One of Hyperion, "The Priest's Tale," explores the history of Father Lenar Hoyt. A Canticle for Leibowitz is tonally and thematic similar to this portion of Hyperion, and centers around the Order of Saint Leibowitz, a group of monks on post-apocalyptic Earth. When they discover relics of their order's namesake, the monks also find new hope for the future of humanity.
The Forever War
Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards, The Forever War is book one in a duology. The novel was directly inspired by Joe Haldeman's experiences in the Vietnam War, and follows William Mandella, a student drafted into Earth's war against the Taurans.
Soldiers are forced to endure time dilation, which means that when William returns to Earth, he's suddenly much older than his loved ones. The unique losses William experiences as a result of time dilation are similar to themes explored in the "Scholar's Tale" and "Consul's Tale" portions of Hyperion.
A Woman of the Iron People
"The Priest's Tale" in Hyperion centers around a Catholic priest who researches the enigmatic Bikura civilization.
Similarly, A Woman of the Iron People follows human anthropologists as they attempt to study the inhabitants of Star Sigma Draconis. However, they invariably interfere with the planet's residents. Ursula K. Le Guin praised A Woman of the Iron People as "fascinating," and the novel went on to win an Otherwise Award.
Another epic sci-fi literary retelling from Simmons, Ilium is the first book in a reimagining of the Iliad set on Earth and Mars.
Readers who enjoyed the frame story aspect of Hyperion, as well as the melding of literary allusions and more classic sci-fi tropes, will agree with Kirkus Reviews that Ilium is "utterly addictive."
The Complete Cosmicomics
As much as the Hyperion series is far-future science fiction, it also explores poetry, and the beauty and devotion that often inspires it.
Italian author Italo Calvino's The Complete Cosmicomics has the same dizzying, poetic scope as the Hyperion Cantos. It tells the adventures of Qfwfq, a “cosmic know-it-all” who has seen every aspect of the universe since the beginning of time.
This post first appeared on The Portalist.